gibsonfan159 Posted January 15, 2018 Share Posted January 15, 2018 Hardly any other band even came remotely close to having albums that spanned as many genres or had the "light and shade" aspect Zep had. They got away with something most bands don't dare dabble with in the first place- switching genres, playing techniques, and instruments within the same album. One could understand considering the annoyance and inconsistencies this would create for live shows. The Beatles and Stones might have came close, but certainly not with the audacity and confidence that Zep did. Fleetwood Mac maybe, but their sound was much more two dimensional. I think one could accredit Jimmy's session days for his ability to craft a tune within whatever genre he decided. And it's not just about "genres". How many bands could sound like a completely different band from song to song, little own album to album? It's almost like they were studio musicians writing songs for different bands, but then putting them on their own albums instead. It's kind of mind-boggling to think that neither their complete sound or their songwriting techniques were ever truly copied, even though they were arguably one of the most influential and imitated rock bands. You hear about "Zep clones" constantly, but what about them makes them a clone? Having high, gutsy vocals like Robert? That could be one of hundreds of vocalists. The hair metal scene was overrun with Plant clones. Even if you combine those vocals with blues rock guitar playing, you then have a hefty debate about who really sounded like Jimmy Page. Kind of hard to pinpoint Page's sound or technique when both seemed to change from one song to the next. Most guitarists keep their general sound for their entire career. You ever hear Malcolm Young switch sounds or styles? Van Halen? Slash? Did Keith Richards ever launch into a progressive rock piece, then do rockabilly followed by heavy metal? You ever see Neal Schon sit down and play an acoustic set then jump into something with an arabic scale? Did Joe Perry ever pick up a mandolin or banjo live? How many folk/bluegrass stomps did Joe Walsh do? Page had a plethora of tone, style, and playing ability he used with expert craftsmanship. He switched sounds and playing techniques constantly and created an intertwining, layered sound that I've heard very few ever truly imitate (unless they were just purposely trying to imitate him for novelty sake). His musical creativity was the very definition of light and shade and made it so the band really couldn't be defined or labeled. So before one names a "Zep clone", they'd better consider all the different aspects of the band that would need to be met, not just one song in particular. Which brings us back to the original question: With all the success and influence that Zep had, why did no other band seemingly try to recreate their songwriting technique or the variation of styles and instrumentation they used? Two major reasons I can think of: The scene changed and the record labels changed. The late 60s and early 70s were a golden period for rock musicians. There was a wide open void of untread musical territory waiting to be explored with a new wave of technology at one's disposal. Hendrix undoubtedly led the charge at opening people's eyes to the possibilities of rock songwriting combined with new technology. Their was a folk resurgence taking place at the height of the hippy culture and acoustic instruments were the new cool. Bands like Black Sabbath showed that rock music could be pumped full of steroids and dark lyrics to create a style that would connect directly with every frustrated, disassociated teenager's mindset. Led Zeppelin seemed to find the middle ground between all those styles. The first album alone was a brave move by the band. Opening with a rock track that was ahead of it's time, followed by a slow folk ballad turned heavy rock, an authentic sounding traditional blues tune, then arguably the heaviest, most energetic song released at the time- Dazed And Confused. Then in an act of musical bi-polar disorder, they lighten things up with a soft, heartfelt track like Your Time Is Gonna Come and take part in the hippy culture with Black Mountain side. Then it's another smack in the face with aggression and angst with the last three songs. This theme seemed to work for them and was a mainstay for their other albums (minus Presence of course). Other rock bands at the time had this method as well, although not to the extent Zep did. The Who were very diverse on Tommy, jumping from hard rock to delicate acoustic tracks. No metal or folk, though. No long organ intros. No screaming blues songs with showcase guitar soloing. Same with any band at the time. Musical diversity was there, but not at the level that Page and the boys were doing it. Then somewhere in the late 70s this attitude by bands was lost. It was no longer ok for rock bands to expand and show off their musical diversity. Bands started transforming from folksy/psychadelic to a more cookie cutter industry standard. Which leads us to the other reason- Corporate control tightened. The opportunity to simply be a band like Zep started to disappear. Rock and Roll was becoming more industrialized. Creative control seemed to be fading. The labels just weren't willing to take a chance on a band "doing whatever it felt like". It had to be one style that appealed to one fan base. Everyone became AC/DC, so to speak. Or maybe just the desire for musicians to dabble with different textures was fading. Either way, if you heard one song by a band by the late 70s/early 80s, there was a good chance the rest of the songs on the album were gonna sound really similar. Judas Priest, Van Halen, Journey, Aerosmith, Foreigner, these bands played their own one style in particular, and it was usually the same on every album. Same throughout the 80s. The 90s alternative/grunge scene seemed to conjure up a few bands that were as diverse as Zep, but they certainly weren't about to jump into a delta blues tune or a thirty minute prog rock track. In the 2000s we have bands that we want to label "Zep clones" because they're playing blues rock with high pitch vocals, but they're certainly not about to record something like White Summer/Black Mountain Side, Achilles Last Stand, or Hot Dog (Thankfully? lol). Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.